How will sustainability certification (Green star, FSC® or PEFC/21-31-150) requirements affect my project and my price?


Supawood was founded as a business based on a set of criteria voiced by architects 21 years ago. We listened. Part of this criteria was and remains Sustainability. Why? Because it equates to both good responsible investment in our community and energy savings for our buildings.

Did you know that Supawood operations are 80% solar powered? Did you know that we design and manufacture in Bathurst New South Wales using only Australian ingredients? We don’t import. We walk our talk and there’s good reasons for it.


Coincidently, the Not-For-Profit Industry Association (NFPIA), Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) was established around the same time in 2002. So, what are these Not-For-Profit Industry Association sustainability models and what is their purpose?

Green Star® was launched in 2003 and is a voluntary sustainability rating system for buildings developed by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA). It is recognized as the official mark for sustainable projects in Australia. It has also been adopted by the (NFPIA) New Zealand Green Building Council and Green Building Council South Africa.

The Australian Government introduced NABERS as an energy rating system for commercial offices that is required for all new buildings over 2000 square metres and buildings that are up for sale or lease.

There are other building industry sustainability models that have been established overseas. The oldest is the environmental assessment method developed in the UK, Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM®), launched in 1990. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) is a voluntary environmental certification system developed by the (NFPIA) U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 2000. A Canadian model for LEED® started in 2009.

Established in 2013, International WELL Building Institute – IWBI, otherwise known simply as, ‘WELL’, places people's health and wellness at the centre of design. Acoustic comfortability within buildings is an important part of this consideration and our systems are all proven to promote optimized speaking and listening conditions in accordance with AS ISO 354-2006 “Acoustics-Measurement of sound absorption in a reverberation room” and AS ISO 11654-2002 “Acoustics – Rating of Sound Absorption – Materials and Systems”.

Whilst there are variables, Green Star®, NABERS, LEED® and BREEAM® are similar in that they use credit rating systems based on points allocated to the credits in order to determine the total score and therefore the level of certification for a sustainable building. Their considerations include low impact design, sustainable building materials, reduced carbon emissions, ecological value, adaptation to climate change and biodiversity protection. They all seek to cut down energy, water and wastewater demands.


So, what do these sustainability assessment methods seek from product manufacturers like Supawood? Very simply, Sustainable Timber, Low Volatile Organic Compounds and Low Formaldehyde.

What is meant by Sustainable timber? It is important for designers to note that they can attain Green Star points using timber products sourced from certified forests and those with low formaldehyde emissions (E0 or E1). The Green Building Council of Australia identified clear evidence that illegally sourced timber is still being used in Australian buildings, particularly in imported engineered wood products and furniture. The GBCA introduced revisions to the ‘Timber’ credit to encourage the use of legal timber in Green Star projects.

CoC – Chain of Custody:

Chain of Custody certification (CoC) is the framework that the GBCA requires for proving legal timber has been sourced for buildings. Chain of Custody certification also enables designers to make informed specification decisions. It assures them that the product has been sourced from a forest certified as sustainably managed in accordance with an internationally recognised legal framework that has been independently audited.

What is CoC? Chain of Custody certification is the chronological documentation or ‘paper trail’ that records the sequence of custody, control, transfer, and distribution of materials, including hard copy or soft copy evidence such as logbooks, receipts, stock codes, stock cards, and shelving that identify the certification status and the like. In straightforward terms, our finished product can be tracked from the Forest to the Sawmill to the Manufacturer to the Wholesaler to Supawood to the Building Site.

Who are the CoC timber providers? The Green Building Council of Australia recognizes both PEFC and FSC® timber as legal timber. The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and The Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) are both international, non-profit, non-governmental organizations which promote sustainable forest management via independent third-party certification.

CoC - Chain of Custody

Chain Of Custody Supawood

PEFC recognises The Australian Forestry Standard (AS 4708). PEFC now accounts for over 264 million hectares of certified forests and its certifications system is recognised in over 30 countries.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) is the world’s most rigorous forest product labelling scheme. It is the only forest label supported by environmental groups such as the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and The Australian Conservation Foundation, and by major forest product retailers. It has certified forests in over 80 countries with 180 million accredited hectares or seven percent of the world’s forest area and operates here as FSC® Australia.

Supawood sources and supplies only PEFC® and FSC® Natural Timber Veneers (NTV) for our suite of interior acoustic panels, slats, beams and blades.

Other Considerations:

Another Sustainability consideration are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). So, what are they? These are the respirable elements that are emitted from everyday products including carpet, vinyl flooring, air fresheners, cleaning products, cosmetics, adhesives, paints etc. Concentrations of some VOC’s can be consistently higher inside a building than outside.  Low VOC refers to volatile organic compounds that are not harmful to the environment and humans. It mostly refers to paints and other products that have a very low or zero VOC, e.g., sealants and adhesives. Supawood uses only Low VOC paints and adhesives or otherwise allows off-gassing to occur off site, to meet this criteria and our products all carry this assignation.

Formaldehyde, a naturally emitting constituent of timber is considered harmful in high concentrations. Supawood sources its substrate materials which are certi­fied EO and E1 under a strict NATA JAS-ANZ accredited system from members of the Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA) which began in 1934. The EWPAA began analysing formaldehyde content in Engineered Wood Products during the 1980’s and worked successfully to reduce them. E0 and E1 are considered best class in terms of formaldehyde emissions. EWPAA member mills also source their timber from certified forests.

PEFC or FSC® timber is used in our timber-based product range. This is true for all Natural Timber Veneers that we source for our clients. These NTV’s can be sourced from suppliers who have Chain of Custody certification or those who don’t. If a client identifies with us early in the project that it will be certified, we then source the selected NTV(s) from a Chain of Custody Certified supplier. The cost for the finished product is somewhere between 5 and 10% more than if it were not required. The additional cost covers the certification costs borne from our suppliers.


OK, now that we understand sustainability models, what are the benefits? The Not-For-Profit Industry Associations involved base their findings on strict performance and measure criteria and the results are well proven beyond any doubt. The Green Building Council of Australia ‘The Value of Green Star - A Decade of Environmental Benefits, 2013’ reported research has shown that on average, ““Green Star certified buildings produce 62% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than average Australian buildings and use 66% less electricity than average Australian buildings. In addition, they also use 50% less electricity than if they had been built to meet minimum industry requirements (Section J of the National Construction Code), so the opportunities for energy efficiency improvements in these buildings are significant.” Also, that these buildings are, “Generating 62% less greenhouse gas emissions than the average of Australian commercial buildings.” Further, “On average, Green Star As Built certified buildings recycled 96% of their construction and demolition waste.”

NABERS reports, “Over the last 20 years, we have proven that “What gets measured gets managed.” Designers using the NABERS model have saved an average of 30-40% on their energy over 10 years.”

How much?

What about costs associated with Certification? It depends on the model. As one example, The Green Star certification fee varies depending on the type of project and is scaled to the contract value of the project, from new buildings to major refurbishments and fitouts. For instance, a $10 - $30 million contract value costs could cost on average $23,000 in certification fees or 0.23% to 0.076% of the contract value. When offset against a 66% reduction in electricity costs let alone the environmental savings achieved from sourcing tangibly measured sustainable building products, the fee is negligible.

What about the cost of Supawood products? It depends on the designer and their requirement. All of our materials and products are sustainable. We supply either PEFC or FSC® based timber in our interior product range. Our Natural Timber Veneer finishes, called SUPAVENEER can be sourced from suppliers who have Chain of Custody certification in place or those who don’t. If a client identifies with us early in the project that it will be certified, we then source the selected NTV(s) from a Chain of Custody Certified supplier. The emphasis here is on the early identification that the project is a certified sustainable one. The cost for the finished product if it is CoC is somewhere between 5 and 10% more than if it were not required. The additional cost covers the certification costs borne from our suppliers. If the finish is our SUPAFINISH or SUPACOLOUR and PEFC certification is required, then there is no cost increase.

You can find more on Supawood sustainability here: You searched for sustainability - Supawood

If I can help you with your project to discuss Intent, Buildability, Compliance and Budget please feel free to contact me on 0427 573 024 or at [email protected]

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